Dear Mr. President,
On July 21 of 2007, I was dressed as Bellatrix Lestrange and, before an exuberant crowd of over 2,000, I revealed the first copy of the final Harry Potter book, and sold it to the first person in line. Less than an hour later, we'd sold a copy to every person who'd waited in line, and my roommates and I headed into the metro to go home. I'd been at work since 9 am, and it was close to 2:30am. Three men approached us on the platform and, seeing that we were reading the Harry Potter books, offered us $50 a book, cash. So you might see why I wasn't at all surprised to read that Elena Kagan was asked to comment on the Edward v. Jacob "controversy."
I want to be disappointed by this, but I can't help finding it sort of endearing. Don't get me wrong, the Twilight phenomenon has never appealed to me at all, but the young girl who went to the midnight shows of all the Star Wars special editions, or who, (even as a poor 21-year old) refused to sell my $21 copy of the Deathly Hallows for $50 so that I could stay up 12 straight hours reading it, understands those fans, to a point. I can't help but be impressed that these stories, intended to do little more than entertain children, have swept up much of the adult population in a shared experience. The people who hate Twilight, or who joke about it, are as caught up in this phenomenon as those who love it. Maybe the bookseller in me is always gratified to see people excited about reading, but I think it's more than that, too. I think that, having lived in so many places in my life, and always feeling a bit transient, it is comforting to know that we're all looking at the same sky, so to speak. That, on July 22nd, 2007, when I looked around on the metro, I was seeing the same sea of orange covers that friends and strangers alike were encountering on planes, in classrooms and cafes all over the world. That art, which is glorious in its celebration of our differences, the unique experience it offers each of us, also allows us to see how much we have in common.
Certainly, as a bookseller, I have also witnessed those who have been taken in too deeply by their fantasies and fandom, who have lost sight of reality and may never recognize it again. I don't know that fiction can be blamed for offering such an alluring alternative for those who find reality too painful. And, while I respect the Senate and the process of judicial confirmation too much to wish it to appear trite or silly, I am confident that werewolves and vampires will be far from the most ridiculous or undignified things that Kagan will be questioned about in the coming days.